After being rejected, humiliated by being tossed around like a ball and made fun of by the men her eyes fell upon the thin frail creature with milky skin very plainly dressed. She looked at her with curious eyes. The woman’s face was covered with a veil, which she thought was stupid. It was not a sunny day. She looked innocent and fragile. After being insulted by the men she thought of seeking pleasure in a companionship of a female. She thought of talking to her. She began walking towards her. She hardly took two steps, that she felt two hands on her back, pushing her to the ground. The rough pebbles on the ground, tore through her saree and bruised her knees.
She supported herself on her hands. One of them took hold of her hair. Locks of hair fell over her face, except for those tightly clenched by his hand.
Her neck was arched back in a painful position.
She was not helpless.
She could have fought them off.
She was a warrior too.
But she didn’t hate them like they hated her.
Also, she had no idea what they were planning to do next.
“Let’s cut her nose and ears and teach her a lesson”. A metal flashed past her eyes without a moment’s delay. Her nose with the nose ring still attached to it fell on the ground. There was blood oozing out of her face and mouth. Shock overtook her mind. She tried to stop the bleeding with her hands, but soon her wounds exceeded the number of her hands. Two more pieces of flesh fell on the ground. She looked at the blood stained ground, pieces of her body, no longer of her. One more flash of metal, blood poured out of her chest.
In the midst of all her agony, the woman she noticed was still standing at the same spot like a stone figurine.
She was at her feet.
She looked up at her face from underneath her veil.
Tears were rolling down Sita’s face.
She did not know why.
She coughed and crawled for minutes. After a number of attempts she finally gained her strength to stand and draped herself in bloody remains of her torn saree.
A long silent glance at them.
Maybe she cursed them or maybe they were already cursed by their actions.
Maimed, emaciated, disfigured Meenakshi limped her way all the way to Lanka. As she entered the capital, citizens took saw her. Here was a their most feared promiscuous arrogant queen, now with missing body parts dressed in blood soaked rags.
Her beauty maimed, her femininity destroyed and pride crushed.
She took the thing she had and the only she ever really had, her dignity and kept her noseless earless head up as much her broken neck allowed it to, straightened her back as much as her painful back allowed her to and as she walked through the ruthless crowd, she heard them say in their minds, in unison-
“This was bound to happen.”
Then she was forgotten.
Her name was Meenakshi.
She had eyes of the shape of fish,
and hence she was called Meenakshi.
And what happened to her is equivalent to modern day acid attack.
May be if Valmiki was a woman he would have told the story differently.
He ..or she would have told how a free courageous woman widowed by her own brother took life in her own control, and how she let nobody define her and nobody tell her whom she can love, and how many people she can love.
A liberated woman , free spirited woman and unapologetic woman.
And also a ridiculed woman , hated woman and a bad woman.
He .. or she would have told a story of a wife who did exactly what was told to her by her parents, husband , in laws or any one else. Someone whose life was always at the mercy of others.
Both of them suffered. But one’s suffering is considered her punishment and the other’s her beauty , and evidence of her patience and benevolence.
A good wife and a good woman.
But both of them suffered.
At least Meenakshi made her own choices , lived her own life and apologized to no one.
That was a crime.
It is a crime.
Because to live one’s own life independently is selfish and a severed nose , two severed ears and a severed breast is the righteous price one must pay for it.
In her ted talk , the author Chimamanda Adichie talks about the dangers of a single story ( stories told with a single perspective ). Such single stories are misleading and often try to simplify reality at the expense of losing realness. A good story is pluralistic. A character in itself is a plural being who could be viewed as a different person from different views. In such a scenario pre-labeling the character either good or bad though makes it easy for the reader to absorb the story , but also disallows him from delving deeper into the character’s mind and explore its mind and nature and in the process explore their own minds and nature.
One such story that has been ruined by this dumbing down by religious TV channels, movies, serials and even animated series to make it palpable to a lazy audience, is Ramayana.
Thank you for reading!